While jockeys Peter Knuckey and Shaun O’Donnell both landed Belmont Park victories on July 21 the day was, in a sense, a little disappointing for them.
Both hoops have been in fine touch and are going to finish second and third in the jockey premiership behind William Pike who resurfaced on Saturday after a three month stint in Hong Kong.
Pike booted home Elusive Image in the main race the Belmont Classic (2200m) for absent, holidaying trainer Grant Williams and in the process dashed the hopes of O’Donnell in the race and Knuckey in the premiership tussle.
Pike’s win prevented O’Donnell on Rantorini (second) claiming a double for the day. Rantorini was racing a little keenly early and then had to tramp wide and while leading into the home straight was vulnerable to the late challenge from Elusive Image who steamed home from last on the home turn to win by half a length.
The win also took some heat off Pike as earlier Knuckey had closed the gap to only 4 wins after he claimed victories on with Fair Hunter and Hard Ball Get –two gallopers doing everything right for Jason and Simon Miller (no relation), respectively.
Perhaps this is a modern version of ‘Millers tales,’ and tails are what rivals are seeing of this pair as both gallopers are continually giving the heads-up to their trainers with a hat-trick to the former and a double to the latter in recent weeks.
With two metropolitan meetings left Knuckey is going to have to ‘do a Tocknell’ (and more) to beat Pike.
For those who have forgotten, three decades ago the hapless Max Roney seemed set to win the Bunbury riders premiership as his main rival Ross Tocknell had to ride 5 winners to defeat him, on the last day.
Tocknell did just that steam rolling the hapless Roney into second.
Knuckey has to ride six winners in the next two meetings, and Pike nothing, for the challenger to get up.
That is a tall order on both counts.
O’Donnell, like Knuckey, continues to be in great touch and his win on Frenchman, in the last continued the transformation of the powerfully built chestnut, under trainer Justin Warwick, having won 4 of his last five starts–and the loss was a close second.
As for the Parnham family, jockey Steven Parnham assisted trainer Paul Jordan to win against his jockey brother (Brad) and father, and prominent trainer,Neville, both of whom had to be content with Shady Bet running second in the Westspeed 3yo Handicap (1200m).